Our first orchid is out along with several other flowers, while the weather can never be guaranteed, it is 18C in the shade today.
Spring has well and truly arrived here at Domaine de France. we have blossom everywhere. We have been enjoying lunch and tea on the terrace and basking in 20+ degrees during the day.
Now is a great time to book a holiday here at Domaine de France, we still have vacancies for Easter and non peak season.
Some availability for July and August too.
There are deals now available through trainline,
Bergerac airport is only 50 minutes away and their spring and summer flights schedule has just been published. There are lots of deals out there so have a look from throughout Europe but from the UK you can fly from Edinburgh, Bristol, Birmingham, East Midlands, London city, London, Stanstead, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Southampton airports.
Some of the birds you may see in our garden, with the French names.
Entre le 15 mars et le 31 juillet, il est interdit de tailler les haies.
Sites de reproduction, de nourrissage et de refuge pour de très nombreuses espèces d'animaux, les haies représentent un petit écosystème en soi. Dès la fin de l'hiver, elles sont colonisées par un cortège d'oiseaux qui y construisent leurs nids.
Between March 15 and July 31, it is forbidden to prune hedgerows.
Breeding, feeding and refuge sites for many species of animals, hedgerows represent a small ecosystem in itself. At the end of winter, they are colonized by a procession of birds that build their nests.
Warmer day here , spring is in the air with many plants in bud and leaves starting to form on the wild orchids. Looking forward to lunches on the terrace , being sat by the pool and lazy summer days.
Snow - not for us. We should miss the snow, perhaps a good thing. We look forward to the warmth of spring and summer
Wishing you all a happy new year, from Paul & Sarah at Domaine de France www.domainedefrance.com
We are pleased to say that Clévacances 47 have just carried out an assessment of our Gites and they have agreed with our request to be given 3 stars. This is set by national standards and we had to meet tough criteria on room sizes and space for each person in the Gites as well as the items provided gites. If you want to know more then we can provide you with the criteria we were assessed against.
The 3 étoiles gives anyone booking with us the reassurance on the standard within our gites and what they can expect when here. With our outstanding service award we are very pleased.
We are getting bookings next year already and when you are looking for some spring sunshine and flowers its a perfect location for wild flowers and orchids in the gardens.
If you are thinking of visiting us please do not hesitate to contact us.
We can accommodate from two people to whole groups of friends or families as we did on several occasions this year.
We are in a great location to explore or simply relax.
Christmas Wishes From Domaine de France
We were pleased to receive an invitation to a special wine tasting session at one of our specialist Organic vineyards - Domaine de Lancement www.domainelancement.fr.
We had a great time sampling local fayre and learning how to taste their excellent wines under the guidance of a sommelier. It was a great chance to learn a whole new set of french vocabulary around wine and of course pick up some of there special wine ready for Christmas. I am particularly fond of their Rose wine!!
We really enjoy taking guests to this winery to sample their range it is a great place to visit when on holiday.
This week we visited nearby Latour-Marliac which is famous for water lilies and in particular supplying Claude Monet with the lilies for his ponds at Giverny in northern France. This is where Monet famously painted over 250 pictures of his gardens, ponds with a Japanese bridge and the lilies. It was a pleasant couple of hours with many photo opportunities, it also has a café.
Well summer has arrived here in Penne D'Agenais.
We have been very busy in the last few weeks with students and the best part has been relaxing in the pool over the last few weeks at a balmy 30 C . Its great to cool off and chill after a busy day of lessons and activities with the students.
We have been rediscovering all the tourist sites and of course taking advantage of the Festivities that have all started for summer here.
It started with the Fête de la lumière which had the whole community working together to light up the streets with scenes from fairytales. the walk through the medieval town at 22:00 was amazing seeing the old houses all light up and people has windows and doors open so that we could have a little insight into peoples homes as well.
Then of course the most important day for the French 14 Julliet , France's National day. This ended at 22:00 hrs sitting on the wall with the celebrations and dancing behind us watching a firework display over the River to Porte Penne. If this is a taste of what is to come the celebrations for Penne on 4 August should be amazing.
There is so much going on already with several medieval events already underway and more to come. Here is just a taste of what can be done when visiting us at Domaine de France.
Château de Bonaguil which is more English heritage than national trust the cost is Adults 9.50 € per person http://www.chateau-bonaguil.com/en/schedules-and-prices We would say it is well worth a visit
There are other Châteaux you could visit if you wish including Château de Biron or a favourite Château des Milandes which is about an hour 15 to an hour and a half away http://www.milandes.com/ (11€)
Here are some other possible visits:
Tourist information site
Do not forget to visit our own town and walk up to the Basilica Penne d’Agenais town and Basilica to visit / walk
Water lily garden where the lilies for Claude Monet’s gardens at Giverny came from
Bastide towns are always nice to visit and nearby include:
Pujols - Sunday market. Very much worth a visit on a Sunday morning
Monflanquin interesting Bastide town with lots of medieval activities during the summer and a great market.
We even have a special Mini golf (9 €)(often a deal two for one price if you ask) https://www.lestelsia.com/en/loisirs/mini-golf.html The gardens are well worth a walk round just to visit (free)
Probably the biggest traditional market of Lot-et-Garonne is the Marché traditionnel de Monsempron-Libos on Thursday morning well worth a visit, it has mainly food
There are Cafés that offer some food we have Café Des Arts that does lighter meals (lunch / brunch) and is highly thought of with everything from Crepes /salads /vegetarian (not sure of the cost) https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g674064-d2718469-Reviews-Cafe_Des_Arts-Penne_d_Agenais_Lot_et_Garonne_Nouvelle_Aquitaine.html
If you plan to go out for a meal we would recommend going out at lunch time which is the most cost effective way is to go (arrive between 12.30 and 1pm (they will shut after lunch)) they do a menu de jour (menu of the day) it normally has a choice of two starters, two mains and two desserts for about 15 € each plus drinks. It fills you up and you only need a light tea/meal in the evening. Evening meals are from the menu or a set price meal for three courses with a couple of choices. They can be 29 or 30 or 35 Euro’s. They serve from about 7.30. Two of our restaurants have English menus.
We would recommend Le Patio d’Hauteville www.lepatiodhauteville.fr and Le Peyragude,https://www.facebook.com/Restaurant-Le-Peyragude-138440926232369/ it maybe wise to book although you maybe able to turn up. (we are happy to call for you if you are not confident in your French, but they do both speak English) Please say you are from us and they will look after you. They are both in the village, it is possible to drive and walk back and collect the car the following day if you wish.
If you wanted something special Le Stelsia Has three restaurants including one with a Michelin star and is only a short drive away.
We do have two take away pizza places a short drive away that guests have used, a margarita 26cm cost about 6€ or a 33cm 7.50€ different ones go up to 11€
Do not miss one of the ‘Marché Gourmand Nocturne’ near us. This is dining ‘al fresco’ as it should be. Select somewhere to sit at the one of the many trestle tables then, browse the stalls selling local cooked meats and produce from which to make your selection of a meal. To accompany this choose a bottle of wine from one of the local wine producers. Why not finish by having a crepe, fresh fruit, gateau or ice cream? The ambiance deepens as the entertainment gets going and you may even get to your feet to dance a step or two under the stars. During the summer there are several ‘Gourmand’ place to eat where you can turn up, find a stall with food you like sit down and join every one else. Locals may bring plates and cutlery, wine and even their table cloth!
We believe Tuesday Dausse and Thursday Penne d’Agenais by the river.
We do have in Villeneuve the dreaded McDonalds and a ‘Buffalo Grill’ amazingly next to the hospital!
Water sports: we are by the River Lot so there are lots of opportunities for water sports, kayaking, small motor boat, Pedalo’s and paddle boarding. We often use with our French immersion students this place near Fumel (20mins) which have individual to three people canoës et kayaks http://www.tourisme-fumel.com/fr/bouger/13-activites-nautiques/2977-au-temps-d-aimer-barques-canoes.html#.W0jWx2InZok
You can also hire bikes here. Bikes and Canoes are from about 5 €
Bike hire, you could use www.bikehiredirect.com Who will deliver your bikes here. (Please warn us)
If you are interested in the wine and perhaps want to take some home (or to drink here) we would recommend Domaine de Lancement www.domainelancement.fr You can do tasting and also on Mondays & Wednesday from 5pm do a guided visit. It is ‘Biologique’ they have White, one Rose and several reds, will sell by the bottle from less than 6 € Sandrine can also speak English so your tasting can be in English.
Not everyone’s thing, but just up the road is the le Musée du Foie Gras, however, most Fridays they have a morning market including Marche Gourmande at lunchtime and it is all very French with local music, you do not have to visit the museum, several guest have enjoyed a meal there. https://www.souleilles-foiegras.com/
For our younger guests there is http://www.parc-des-pirates.com/uk/ in the village and also a place to get very wet Site Nature des Etangs Ferrié for 2-3 € (within walking distance)
Fishing - we have nearby a fishing lake, Maison de la pêche http://www.tourisme-fumel.com/en/move/12-nature-activities/5219-site-nature-des-etangs-de-ferrie-maison-de-la-peche.html#.W0sFiGInZok
Or on the River Lot.
We have lots of tourist leaflets and a tourist map to help you find your way around.
We still have space during August in La Petite Maison and in Belle Vue from 25 August. contact us for more details.
Spring has arrived.
We and our guests have been enjoying the almost daily changes in our garden.
We are blessed with some beautiful plants including wild orchids and the protected d'Agenais tulips. Our tulip bed has been stunning and the plum and cherry blossom amazing, so hopefully lots of cherries and plums later in the year.
Although we are getting rain showers the temperatures are rising and the last few days have been slowly climbing to 24 degrees.
We have been able to start having our meals on the terrace.
Le Château Hôtel Le Stelsia. We are very lucky to have just across the river, perhaps ten minutes away, the Stelsia. Which has two restaurants, run by the recognised chef of several prestigious kitchens, Michel Vico who has just received a Michelin star. They have a friendly atmosphere and local cuisine in its restaurant Le Bistrot which is open daily, brunch every Sunday is from 12 to 3pm. Le Stelsia also includes gourmet cuisine in its Michelin star restaurant, Le Jasmin.
We are fortunate to have many fine places to eat within a very short distance from us. The most cost effective meals are at lunchtime (by 13.00) you are given a couple of choices for each of the three courses of the menu of the day ‘Menu de Jour’
Le Peyragude is a matter of minutes away in Penne d’Agenais by car or we would walk (uphill) it is one of our favourites; this restaurant offers a regional cuisine. A sunny terrace where you can have lunch, with prices starting from 14€ and also good for evening meals (from about 7pm prices from about 30 € English and Spanish is also spoken.
Le Patio d'Hauteville again very close by, it has wonderful views including across to our house and food. Lunch starts from 15 € Evening meals about 30€
Café des Arts is located in the heart of the village, good for lighter and perhaps later lunches; it has a terrace under the arcades where you can lunch. Specialties pancakes, salads and ice-creams.
During the summer months there are, in the evening, many food markets ‘Marché gourmand’ Tables and chairs are provided, the locals often bring cutlery, plates, glasses and even their own table cloth although these are not necessary. You can choose from the various stalls all sorts of food and delicacies, from snacks, to main meals and wine at very reasonable prices. They can include duck, grilled meats, fresh plates, mussels fries, cheeses, pastries, chicken, pizzas, paella, snails ... our guests have often enjoyed these evenings including the music, atmosphere and for some the chance to practice their French and try something different. Some of the best ones are a matter of minutes away at Tournon d’Agenais, Dausse, Pujols and Port de Penne
These are but a very few of the many options for eating in our immediate area, guests have explored and enjoyed many more that cover a variety of tastes.
www.domainedefrance.com is on the edge of Penne d’Agenais is a wonderful place to unwind with a book, by the pool or in our large ‘parkland’ grounds.
The area is a great place to explore this part of France by Car, on foot or by bike on the many designated routes.
There are many interesting Bastide towns with ancient buildings, arches and peaks, cobblestone lanes, narrow winding passages with charming character to explore. There are also many Châteaux to visit, including the well preserved
Château de Bonaguil.
The vinyards of Cahors (wine) are about twenty five minutes away if you wish to visit.
There are many markets for the wonderful fresh produce including melons and so many varieties of tomatoes. We are fortunate to have one of the largest markets at Monsempron-Libos.
If you are thinking of visiting this spring or summer please do not hesitate to contact us.
At the moment we still have some space at Easter and some space in the summer.
We can accommodate from two to fifteen.
Last year we had fantastic grapes, as we look towards spring and summer we are making sure that the grapes are pruned and tied in, already buds are forming. It was 15C here today.
"So the lights shone in Penne this Christmas and so did we.
We had fun finding a Christmas Tree to fit the 15' high ceilings, but the lights look great on the games room terrace. and there was plenty of Greenery to make the Christmas Wreath from too!
Our group booking for a family party went well and the woodburners and fire helped keep things cosy.
Christmas with everyone here was great and we managed to get more work done in the garden, thanks Simon and Aaron.
We learned a lot more about fishing with our next booking:- apparently there is great fishing on the lot, Trout, Perch and Zander. We are glad our carpark was big enough for their boat.
Epiphany is a really important celebration here and the food of the day is "Galettes des Rois" which is a pastry and frangipan pie.
Believe it or not we have bulbs sprouting in the garden and catkins on trees.
"Its beginning to look a lot like Christmas"
Well Christmas appears to have arrived in France. This weekend seems to be the weekend of Christmas Markets. We enjoyed both Penne D'Agenais and Fumel Markets this weekend.
Lots of local produce and if you are young at heart, you can have a visit with Santa.
Truffles, honey, foie gras, chocolates, Saffron, crafts, Christmas gifts
We had some trees that were dead or rotten and potentially dangerous, so they had to be removed. The job this weekend was starting to clear up all the mess and wood. Thanks to Simon we achieved a great deal. The view of the house looks much more open and better.
Looking much tidier here,
We tried some modern sculpture and called this 'The hand maidens tale'
The biggest at about 100 feet high and should be down this week
We did disturb some creatures (who are all okay) we still have not managed to take a picture of our owl, red squirrels or wood pecker who are around most days now.
This weekend we accommodated 15 people in the gites and some in the house, the bride looked lovely, but I enjoyed the cars. The washing and the cleaning however ...
Today we discovered another Chateaux for our guests about 20 minutes from our house. Very interesting, English heritage in style. You certainly need good shoes, a good head for heights and there are some steep steps, what amazing views from the top. https://www.chateaudegavaudun.com/ We have at least four Chateaux within a drive including one of the best in South West France Château de Bonaguil http://www.chateau-bonaguil.com/
This weekend we have a wedding group staying including the bride and groom. 15 in the Gites and 6 in the house! we said we could do large groups so now we are.
We have enjoyed and been busy for the last four weeks, indeed the Three Gites have been full. This week we have a French couple, a Scottish family and a Dutch family with two boys who love the pool. It has been hot this week. They are a splendid group this week, indeed we all got together for a drink and nibbles last night and are looking forward to a group BBQ Thursday. The French go back to work / School very soon and next week we have one Gite empty! (at the moment)
When you move the shutters, be aware what might fall out. (he flew off happily after being awoken)
We have been doing some work on the veg patch, still harvesting squashes, tomatoes and a few beans. from the pictures you can see it is a little overgrown, but still a harvest to be had.
I have planted some leeks, I am unsure they enjoy the 30C heat at the moment. I have a few seeds coming through if it is not too hot!
Today is Paul's Birthday and so we had laid on a spectacular air display of balloons celebrating it. (well actually it is an event put on by a nearby chateau but lets not quibble).
Last week the Town put on a spectacular firework display from the basilica. We had the most amazing display we think it was better than the firework competition on Plymouth Hoe. The timing was perfect as we had friends and family visiting and we had missed two birthdays with our move.
The veg plot has had some work on it and Paul now has his leeks planted. We are picking tomatoes, beans and squashes already, thanks to the previous owners. The plums are ready for picking and we have grapes to pick so I will be jam making shortly.
We have had a couple of wet stormy days but next week looks to be improving again.
We are heading over to Monflaquin this week as there is a medieval festival not to mention the lovely market we discovered this week.
So we arrived on Monday 24th July after a long journey down. the Cat had more room than we did.
We have spent this week cleaning and tidying up things here ready for our first guests.
Who would have thought that a swimming pool would be so complicated. Paul has hovered the pool to help Henri our pool Robot / hoover. Henri has had a new filter bag and has been racing around the pool like a new robot. All is looking good, such a shame Paul and I have been too busy to swim the pool.
We have had help this week from Paul's sister and our Niece who have helped spruce up the Games room, and the two Gites not currently occupied. all is looking good and clean with the welcome packs all ready.
Then we had a thunderstorm this morning, can you believe it? still the washing was wet on the line anyway!
PS we still have our house to sort out!!!
Found this aerial view today of Penne-d'Agenais's which is dominated by the Byzantine-Romanesque-style Notre-Dame de Peyragude basilica, recognisable from afar by its silver dome. From here you can see our house, in the valley.
We are just coming into our third summer living in France where we run a Gite business and teach English to French students who stay with us. WWW.domainedefrance.com